As the name suggests, Microsoft’s Family Safety service is all about monitoring the security of your loved ones. You can track info about your family’s digital activity and have a conversation during family meetings. Parents can view kids' activity reports of screen time, top websites visited, and the terms they are searching for online.
Other features include screen time balance, content filters, location sharing, apps, and game filters, device limits, and spending limits.
Before you start using these features, you need to create a family group, invite members, and configure settings for each member. Sounds confusing? Allow us to simplify Microsoft Family Safety’s onboarding process for you.
Where Is Microsoft Family Safety Available
Microsoft Family Safety is available on the web and mobile. For a smooth set up, use the web portal. Mobile apps are best suited for viewing member information.
Navigate to Microsoft account online and sign in using Microsoft 365 login credentials.
Note: As you may have guessed, the Family Safety service is only available for Microsoft 365 subscribers.
Tap on the Family option in the menu bar, and it will open the Family Safety portal on the web.
Invite Family Members
Since you're the one setting up things, you are the organizer in the family. Now, tap on the + icon at the upper left corner and invite family members using Microsoft email ID. You can also use the member’s phone number connected to their Microsoft account.
While drafting the invitations, you can assign the family member to be an organizer or just a member. You can add your wife or husband as another organizer to manage the content filters.
Your family members will receive an invitation mail to join the family group. Ask them to accept the invitation and after a successful confirmation, you will see them on your Family Safety account with a member profile picture, name, and email ID.
Set Filters, Screen Time, Purchase Limit, and More
Now that you have invited family members to the family group, it's time to set rules, time limits, purchase limits, and content filters for them.
Go to your main Family Safety page and select More options under member name. From the following screen, you will notice all the options to configure for the member. Let’s explore them one by one.
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Activity filter allows you to block inappropriate websites and receive web browsing activity reports. Enable 'Activity reporting' and 'Email weekly reports to me' options under the Manage menu.
The activity monitor will only work on Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browser. It collects usage data from Windows 10, Xbox models, and Android devices running Microsoft Launcher.
Screen time creates a healthy habit with device and app limits. You can see how much time a family member has left for the day, give them more, or say, "that's enough for today".
Turn on device limits, and the time will be shared between Xbox and Windows 10 devices. You can go through weekdays and assign a time slot to use devices.
App and Game Limits
Are your kids spending too much time on mobile apps or games? It’s time apply brakes to apps and game consumption.
Go to App and Game Limits menu, and you will see your kid’s Android device and supported apps to apply filter. Block the irrelevant apps and games from the list. However, the apps and games filter won’t work with an iPhone.
You can go to each app and set a time limit and duration for weekdays and weekends.
You can set an age limit to block inappropriate apps and games. Anything that exceeds the content ratings you've decided is appropriate for this family member will need your approval. This setting applies to Windows 10 and Xbox One devices.
The option also blocks inappropriate adult web content and turns on the SafeSearch filter.
Right now, that only works with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10, Xbox One, and Android devices, so other commonly used browsers such as Chrome and Opera aren’t allowed.
Organizers can add money to family member's Microsoft account to let them buy digital content. Set content filters to help protect them from stuff that’s too mature.
Find Your Child
This option works best on mobile apps. You will need to download Microsoft Family Safety mobile apps to view your kids’ current location.
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The Family Safety function isn’t limited to setting up restrictions for family members. Microsoft also creates a shared Family OneNote notebook and Family Calendar on Outlook. That means you can coordinate and collaborate on things like family budget or plan a gathering.
You will see those options in the header. You can plan family events and keep track of important notes among family members using OneNote.
A Word on Mobile Apps
You can invite and set up the Family Safety group using mobile apps as well. However, you will need to use the Family Safety website to customize each setting for a family member. Mobile apps are best suited to view the member’s screen time, location, and other info on the go.
At any point, you can remove a family member from the group. Visit Microsoft Family Safety online and move to more options under the member name. Select Remove from the family group, and you are good to go.
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My Experience With Microsoft Family Safety
I used my primary Microsoft 365 account and added a secondary account as a Microsoft Family Safety member. The Screen time function worked as advertised while the content filters were either a hit or miss.
I like how a member can request more screen time with apps and games to organizers. The admin will receive a notification with a request to allocate more screen time. The browsing limitation is quite evident though. It only works with Microsoft Edge and not the popular options such as Chrome and Firefox on Windows 10. None of the filters will work on an iPhone or Mac.
Keep Your Family Safe Online
Now that online education and classes are more common, it’s important to keep track of your kids' web consumption. Using Microsoft Family Safety, you can set up the perfect safe environment for your little ones and have worry-free working hours at home. Do set up Microsoft Family Safety and share your opinions in the comments section below.
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